Nov 13

Ike Davis Draws Interest; Should Mets Have Second Thoughts?

The New York Mets seem determined on dealing Ike Davis, and considering his lack of production and injury history over the past three years it’s a reasonable position.

ESPN reported the Mets are drawing interest for Davis from several teams, and it can be concluded the following are the primary reasons: 1) he has a track record for power, hitting 32 homers in 2012; 2) he’s a solid defensive first baseman; 3) he’s cost-efficient, having made $3.1 million this year; and 4) he’s young, at 26, meaning there’s time to turn it around.

DAVIS: Mets talking trade for him. (AP)

DAVIS: Mets talking trade for him. (AP)

For those very attractive reasons, and that teams have been cool on Lucas Duda, might be reason for the Mets to reconsider and give Davis another shot.

The general belief from scouts is Davis is young enough to resurrect his career, and a change-of-scenery with different coaching might have him again hitting bombs.

The Mets can give him a raise and they can give him another chance, but what they can’t give him is the different coaching and change-of-scenery.

Part of the rap on Davis is he’s reluctant to take coaching advice, but that’s stuff you hear privately and something he vehemently denies. Criticism that is easily verifiable is his propensity for striking out, a low on-base percentage, and an all-or-nothing mentality at the plate.

Alderson told ESPN at the general managers meetings in Orlando Wednesday he’d like to make a move soon, but, as always, reiterated he won’t make a move just to make a move.

“In our situation, we’d like to do something early,” Alderson said. “It would be great, if it’s the right move, and if that kind of thing is possible. It may be. It may not be. We’re working at it, but I can’t predict anything.’’

The teams reportedly interested in Davis are Houston, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Colorado. Naturally, they’d prefer to deal him to the American League.

From Davis’ perspective, each of those teams have better hitters’ parks than Citi Field, with Camden Yards and Coors Field particularly enticing.

Alderson acknowledged sensing urgency from the often-disappointed Mets’ fan base, but that’s no reason to make a panic move.

Speculation of a trade involving Davis would most likely be as part of a package, or one team dealing a disappointment for another. Nobody will surrender somebody of substance one-on-one for Davis.

Not that Davis has gone wire-to-wire without problems – either injuries or dreadful slumps – but if the Mets deal him they would be going with the largely unproven Duda. Another first base option could be Daniel Murphy, but dealing him opens a hole at second base unless they acquire a left-fielder and move Eric Young to the infield.

Reportedly, the Mets spoke with free-agent shortstop Jonny Peralta Wednesday.

The Mets’ top four priorities are at least two starters; shortstop; a power-hitting outfielder; and bullpen depth.

NOTE: Mets pitcher Matt Harvey finished fourth in the National League Cy Young Award balloting Wednesday.

Nov 10

Mets’ GM Alderson Goes To GM Meetings With Many Needs But Few Options

There is normally little action at the GM meetings, which begin Monday for New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson in Orlando, the same city in which the winter meetings will take place a month later.

Alderson is open to discuss trades and signing free agents, but realistically the Mets have little trading pieces on the major league level, and the most coveted prospects on the minor league level he wants to protect.

Alderson knows he must protect his young pitching assets while Matt Harvey mends from Tommy John surgery.

The free agent market will be flooded Monday when those players given qualifying offers are expected to reject them to test the market.

Let’s face it, the Mets won’t be serious bidders for Jacoby Ellsbury, are expected to lose out on Shin-Soo Choo, and will likely be outbid for Stephen Drew. This leaves the Mets still with holes in the outfield and shortstop.

The Mets also have need for two starters at the back end of the rotation, a back-up catcher for Travis d’Arnaud, depth in the bullpen and a decision to make at first base between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.

Alderson has a lot of work to do, and despite saying he has the latitude to make a $100-million package, but Ellsbury and Choo what more than that and more than four years.

So, Alderson will be in Orlando to meet with general managers and agents and must be creative.

 

Nov 04

Barry Zito Could Plug A Hole In Mets’ Rotation

There are already over 150 players who filed for free agency, but one who could be an interesting fit for the New York Mets might be Barry Zito.

If given the choice of trying to fill a back-of-the-rotation hole between Johan Santana and Zito, I would make a run at Zito, even though he had a miserable 5-11 record and 5.74 ERA in 2013 for the simple reason he is healty.

ZITO: Worth thinking about.

ZITO: Worth thinking about.

Zito, at 35, obviously has seen better days, but he is one year removed from going 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA while making 32 starts in 2012. He made 25 starts last season.

Instead of picking up an $18 million option for 2014, the San Francisco Giants will give him a $7.7 million buyout. To get Zito, the Mets wouldn’t have to spend close to either figure.

Zito didn’t live up to the expectations of his seven-year, $126-million contract with the Giants, but he did do this: for the most part remained healthy; made at least 25 starts in all but one season; and worked at least 180 innings in all but two.

He only went 63-80 with a 4.62 ERA, but was always a team player who willingly worked out of the bullpen when the Giants opted to go with their younger options. He always took the ball, which is what the Mets need with the holes left by the Matt Harvey and Jenrry Mejia injuries.

General manager Sandy Alderson has a familiarity with Zito from his time in Oakland, and the veteran left-hander fills a definite need for the Mets, who lack two starters in the back end of their rotation until Rafael Montero or Jacob deGrom are ready to be promoted.

Citi Field’s vast outfield would accommodate the fly ball pitcher, and more importantly, he will be able to eat innings and be a positive influence to the Mets’ younger pitchers.

No, the Mets wouldn’t have to go overboard on a contract, instead, give him one loaded with incentives such as games started and innings pitched. In 14 seasons, he has averaged 34 starts and 206 innings pitched, while going 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA. His career WHIP is 1.334. The Mets would have killed for that stat line last season.

Alderson stated the Mets will prepare to not have Harvey, and doing so requires they plug the back end of their rotation with an innings eater. Is Zito somebody the Mets can build around? No. But, he is a pitcher who can fill an obvious void and likely won’t be a liability in doing so.

Plus, his unselfishness can enable the Mets to use him in long relief or a spot starter until their minor league options are ready.

The Mets say they won’t spend lavishly in the market and aren’t interested in an injury reclamation project. Zito can fill their void with a one-year deal plus an option. It’s a no-lose situation for the Mets, who weren’t going to go after a big name. Remember, in filling this hole, don’t look at the attractive names the Mets wouldn’t get anyway, but who is available they can sign to immediately help them.

LATER TODAY:  Free agent options within the NL East the Mets might consider.

Nov 03

Wilpon’s Comments About Core Reveals Mets Have Little To Trade

New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon has subsequently modified his statement about his team having only four core players, later adding Daniel Murphy, Travis d’Arnaud and Bobby Parnell.

It’s not a substantial increase, but highly revealing in two main aspects.

First, it highlights the areas where the Mets are weak and need building. That would be two starters, bullpen depth, first base, shortstop and the outfield. By my count, that’s 18 players.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

WILPON: Revealing comments.

Of course, the Mets won’t be able to turn over their roster by that much, but there will undoubtedly be significant changes.

Realistically, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Aaron Harang will be gone, and with a reluctance to tap into their minor league system for starters until at least June and Jenrry Mejia not certain to be ready, that’s a high priority for Sandy Alderson.

Parnell isn’t a given for spring training, leaving the entire bullpen to reconstruct. Vic Black could move into the closer role, but most everything else is to be defined. Jeurys Familia, Gonzalez Germen, Carlos Torres and Scott Rice should be a part of things, but there are injury and experience considerations. If all are counted, that still leaves at least two spots.

Eric Young and Juan Lagares could be two of the three outfielders, but that leaves right field open and numerous questions are circulating about the production the Mets could get from them.

Thoughts of moving Young to second base and possibly Murphy to first are premature, because the Mets envision more power at first than Murphy could provide. Young definitely won’t supplant Murphy and send the latter to the bench as it would delete the Mets’ overall most productive hitter from the line-up.

And, please, Murphy is not a centerpiece to a trade, he is a complementary part.

That gives us the second revealing aspect of Wilpon’s comments about the Mets’ core. If there’s little there, and whether you’re talking the original four players or the updated seven, it’s not significant. That means there’s also little to trade, so if you’re thinking the Mets will go into the general manager meetings and later the winter meetings with a lot of chips, you’re sadly mistaken.

What the Mets have, they want to keep. Outside their core, all they have are pieces of a package. With the injuries to Matt Harvey and Mejia, the Mets want to hold onto their young pitching prospects – defined as Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom – because they’ll likely need them later.

So, whatever improvements the Mets make this winter will be cash deals.

 

Oct 23

Did Mets Fix Daisuke Matsuzaka Only To Lose Him?

Even knowing that the New York Mets would not have Matt Harvey next season, there was a slight glimmer of optimism they might have enough to piece together a rotation and spend elsewhere.

That glimmer is fading.

MATSUZAKA: Will he walk away?

MATSUZAKA: Will he walk away?

Pitching coach Dan Warthen fixed Daisuke Matsuzaka’s long and cumbersome delivery, complete with a hitch. With a faster delivery, Matsuzaka showed he could be the real deal. After a rocky first two starts, Matsuzaka settled in to become one of the Mets’ most reliable starters in September. Matsuzaka finished at 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA in seven starts with the Mets. His fastball returned with bite as evidenced by his 33-16 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. He averaged just under eight strikeouts per nine innings.

The Mets were interested when Matsuzaka came out of Japan, but didn’t come close to matching Boston with the qualifying negotiating offer to his Japanese team.

Matsuzaka earned $1.5 million this season from the Mets, who picked him up after Cleveland released him at the end of spring training.

The Mets also signed innings-eater Aaron Harang, Sept. 1, after his release from Seattle. Harang, who has also pitched for Cincinnati, San Diego and the Dodgers, is a reliable workhorse. From 2004 through this season, Harang has pitched less than 150 innings only twice, including this year when he worked a combined 143.1 innings with the Mariners and Mets.

Harang gave the Mets six innings in three of his four starts, and five in the other. He was 0-1 with a representative 3.52 ERA, but struck out 26 in 23 innings. However, he did give up five homers.

What Harang and Matsuzaka did was log enough innings to conserve the bullpen and prevent the Mets from unraveling the last month of the season.

What Harang and Matsuzaka also did was impressive to enough scouts to where somebody will make them an offer to pry them away if the Mets go low-ball. The last thing a journeyman pitcher wants to do is not leave an impression in September.

This would not be something new to the Mets, as both Chris Capuano and Chris Young proved enough in their Flushing auditions for another team to take them away.

They aren’t the only ones.

Carlos Torres, who previously pitched in Japan, Colorado and with the Chicago White Sox, was an asset as a spot starter, long reliever and situational reliever this season. In 33 games with the Mets, nine of which were starts, Torres was 4-6 with a 3.44 ERA.

He pitched 86.1 innings, which isn’t bad considering he wasn’t on their radar in spring training. He struck out 75 and walked just 17 with a career-best 1.112 WHIP.

Torres, who made $415,000 this season, will leave if the Mets don’t tender him a contract.

So, that feeling of holding the fort until Rafael Montero is ready, and to a larger extent, until 2015, is giving way to a sense the Mets might have done it again and fixed several pitchers to where somebody else will take them away from them.